Increase in Self-Attacking Antibodies Linked to Severe COVID

Increase in Self-Attacking Antibodies Linked to Severe COVID

According to a Stanford study, at least one in five coronavirus patients in the hospital produces new antibodies that attack their own tissue. Scientists discovered that the process begins about a week after the patient’s hospital admission.

According to the latest data, hospitalized COVID-19 patients are significantly more likely to have autoantibodies, that is, self-attacking antibodies that may also be directed at substances secreted into the blood by their immune cells, compared to individuals without SARS-CoV-2.

Autoantibodies can signal the onset of autoimmune illness before it becomes fully developed.

The researchers examined autoantibodies in blood samples taken from 147 coronavirus patients from three university-affiliated hospitals in March and April 2020 and a group of 48 patients at Kaiser Permanente in California.

Moreover, they also used blood samples taken from other donors before the pandemic outbreak as control. What researchers found and evaluated were the antibodies targeting the virus, autoantibodies, and antibodies directed against cytokines.

Furthermore, the researchers discovered anti-cytokine antibodies in about 60% of hospitalized SARS-CoV-2 patients, compared to roughly 15% of healthy controls.

This could result from the immune system going into overdrive due to a persistent, virulent illness. While in this overdrive, cytokines may wrongly start developing self-attacking antibodies.

If one of these antibodies prevents a cytokine from binding to its recipient, the immune cell supposed to be triggered may not be stimulated. As a result, the virus may have more time to reproduce, perhaps leading to a far worse consequence.

The discovery strengthens the case for vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines only contain a single protein—the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 or the genetic directions for developing it. This way, the immune system is never exposed to or confused by the many additional unique viral proteins produced when an individual receives a vaccine.

Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash

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